Meet the latest answer to police cutbacks in Lancashire . . . the police cut-out!
Real officers are being replaced by life-sized metal replicas to slow down speeding motorists on the county’s roads.
This flat-pack PC, complete with radar gun, was set up on Watling Street Road, Fulwood, Preston, after complaints from residents.
And in a few days he had a dramatic effect, fooling hundreds of drivers into hitting their brakes.
“Anything that slows vehicles down has my total backing,” said local councillor Bobby Cartwright.
“I’m not concerned if they are real police or cut-out cops. If they do the trick then I’m all for it.”
This isn’t the first time Lancashire Constabulary have resorted to cut-outs to boost police presence in the eyes of the public.
A dummy patrol car on a motorway bridge in the county prompted drivers to slow down. And cardboard figures of a Preston city centre community beat officer in shopping areas helped reduce thefts.
Lancashire is now one of 13 forces around the UK to use cut-outs to deter and confuse criminals. West Midlands spent £10,000 on 80 cardboard constables, while Derbyshire forked out £6,500 on a squad of plastic PCs.
Faced with budget cuts of £73m over a four-year period, the metal traffic cop is just one idea to save on manpower.
A force spokesperson said the experiment had been staged in Fulwood following worries voiced in meetings between residents and the neighbourhood policing team.
“The metal policeman is in use as a result of concerns raised by residents at local PACT meetings in relation to speeding in the area.
“Reducing speed reduces the number and severity of road casualties and the idea is that the metal policeman will act as a deterrent to speeding drivers and this has been welcomed by residents.
“The Community Roadwatch scheme is also in operation in the area and speed enforcement will also be carried out at various times.”
Coun Cartwright added: “Congratulations to whoever thought this up, because if we can’t have real police officers there with speed guns then cut-outs will do.
“We have problems with speeding in this area and there are still people who don’t understand what 20 mph and 30 mph zones are there for. So if it slows some of those down then wonderful.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “Around two-thirds of crashes in which people are killed or injured happen on roads with a speed limit of 30mph or less, so it is important that motorists pay careful attention to the speed at which they are driving in urban areas and ensure that they stay within the limit.
“Ultimately, we all have a responsibility for road safety and it’s important that motorists keep their speed down, not just to protect themselves but also to protect vulnerable road users, like pedestrians and cyclists. Helping drivers know what the speed limit is on a particular road is important.”
But not everyone agreed with the use of fake cops. RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “While the presence of a cardboard cut-out policeman with a radar gun may help to slow down vehicles in Preston, the enforcement of speed limits is very clearly the responsibility of the police or camera safety partnerships. So any deviation from this is potentially confusing to motorists.”